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The project is dedicated to people’s attitudes towards the issue of premarital sex. The purpose of the report is to find out the similarities and differences in people’s treatment of the issue. The research aims at finding out whether people’s age, education, ethnicity, gender, and other demographic data have a common or divergent impact on their attitude to premarital sex. The theory is that the level of education and age impact people’s opinions about premarital sex. The hypothesis of the project is that adult females are more likely to disapprove of premarital sex than other age and gender groups.
To obtain the data necessary for the project, I did a survey. I prepared a questionnaire (see Appendix A) consisting of 19 questions: 6 questions regarding their personal data, 8 questions regarding their attitude to premarital sex, and 5 questions about their premarital sex experience (1 question about having the experience and 4 questions for those who answered positively the first one). The type of survey was true or false. The participants were required to enter their demographic data (age, gender, race/ethnicity, marital/living status, sexual orientation, and education). Then, they were suggested 8 questions that were aimed at finding out their attitude towards the issue. The questions were created in such a way which allowed to find out whether people felt positive or negative about premarital sex and why they felt so. The third block of questions was to be answered by those who admitted having practiced premarital sex.
The survey did not require the participants to reveal their names, phone numbers, or addresses. It was designed for purely informational purposes and was completely anonymous. Since most of my friends and family felt uncomfortable taking the survey, I had to find other respondents to obtain twenty completed questionnaires. I distributed the survey among the visitors to a local café and park, and I obtained several participants’ answers via the internet.
The average age of the participants was 36 years old, the youngest being 17, and the oldest being 63. Half of the participants were female, and the other half were male. 16 participants reported straight sexual orientation, and 4 were homosexual (three males and one female). 5 participants were at high school, 1 was at college, and 14 people finished a university (2 of them had a Bachelor’s degree, 8 had a Master’s degree, and 4 obtained a Ph.D. level). What concerns ethnicity, 10 respondents were white Americans, 6 were African Americans, 3 were Asian, and 1 was European. The participants’ marital/living status was reported as a single for 6 people, in a relationship – 3 people, married – 8, and divorced – 3 people. The variety of demographic data allowed to obtain the results from different populations, which gives more reliability to the obtained outcomes.
The results were analyzed and synthesized to find the common and divergent opinions concerning the issue.
65% of respondents disapproved of premarital sex, among them 46.15% males and 53.84% females. However, only 35% of the participants are being judgmental about the issue of premarital sex.
72.72% of respondents at the age of 17- 33 (the “millennials”) reported their disapproval of premarital sex, but 45.45% of those disapproving it admitted practicing it.
55.55% of respondents at the age of 41- 63 reported their disapproval of premarital sex, but 100% of them admitted practicing it. Out of this age group, 50% females expressed their disapproval and 50% females were not against it.
25% of participants reported that their attitude towards premarital sex was impacted by family upbringing. 60% of males considered premarital sex beneficial for the future family, whereas only 20% of females reported the same.
None of the respondents considered premarital sex the main cause of sexually transmitted diseases. 20% of females considered premarital sex the major reason for undesired pregnancy and abortions.
The average number of sexual partners reported by respondents between 17 and 33 years old was 3, and for the respondents between 41 and 63 years old, it was 3.77.
55% of respondents were or had been married. Out of these, 72.72% practiced premarital sex. 36.36% male and 9.09% female respondents who were or had been married said that premarital sex could cause mistrust among the partners if they lost virginity to other people. 20% of respondents had married or planned to marry their first premarital sex partners. 42.8% of females and 37.5% of males regretted having practiced premarital sex. Out of the females, 66.66% of younger respondents (17-31 years old) and 33.33% of older (41-60 years old) regretted having practiced premarital sex.
10% males and 20% females admitted the negative impact of premarital sex on their decision to marry the partner. 20% males and 5% females admitted the positive impact of premarital sex on their decision to marry the partner. 45% did not report any impact.
According to the General Social Survey results, people tend to change their attitudes towards premarital sex (Kraft). Over the last fifty years, the number of those who do not disapprove of it rose from 29% in the 1970s to 58% in 2012 (Kraft). In my report, 65% of people feel negative about the issue. However, only one-third of the respondents feel judgmental. Furthermore, many of those who disapprove of premarital sex admitted having practiced it. 55.55% of female participants between 40 and 61 years old disapproved of premarital sex. This result does not coincide with the hypothesis about adult females being more likely to disapprove of premarital sex than other age and gender groups. However, such result is common in other studies. According to research performed by Elias et al., people’s permissiveness of premarital sex is higher in the younger age (131). A study by Wright supports this idea and reports that young people are less opposed to premarital sex, and the tendency is growing (89).
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Fernández-Villaverde et al. argue that the youth’s attitude to premarital sex is not connected with church’s or parents’ influence as long as contraceptives allow young people to avoid undesired pregnancy (27). However, a quarter of my respondents admitted that they felt the family impact when forming their attitude to premarital sex.
Elias et al. mention that married people are less permissive of premarital sex than single people (132). The results of my questionnaire agree with this argument as many of the married respondents reported their negative attitude of premarital sex. Some of them regretted having practiced it, and some even considered it a serious barrier to trust between spouses.
According to Ghebremichael and Finkelman, there is a higher risk of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) among women engaging in premarital sex (61). However, my survey showed that neither female nor male respondents considered these two issues connected. This controversy signifies the importance of increasing the population’s literacy concerning STDs. The same thing concerns the abortion rates. While the survey participants do not tend to associate premarital sex with unwanted pregnancy and abortion, Teferra et al. report a high level of abortion among young women (2).
The hypothesis of the project was not justified. Among the participants of the survey, older females did not report higher disapproval of premarital sex. The results of the survey are contradictory to the findings of some research articles. This situation can be explained in two ways. For one thing, people’s attitudes tend to alter very fast and frequently. Thus, the data incorporated in the current project is more modern. However, there may be another explanation of the divergences. The number of participants in the current project was much smaller than the number of people surveyed for the articles discussed.
Questionnaire about Attitudes to Premarital Sex (PS)
|Read the questions and answer ‘true’ or ‘false’ for each of them|
|7||Do you disapprove of PS?|
|8||Do you judge those who practice PS?|
|9||Is your attitude impacted by your parents’ upbringing?|
|10||Do you find PS beneficial for the future family?|
|11||Do you believe PS may cause mistrust in the family if the partners lost virginity to other people?|
|12||Do you think PS is the main cause of undesired pregnancy and abortion?|
|13||Do you find PS the main cause of sexually transmitted diseases?|
|14||How many sexual partners have you had?|
|15||Did you practice PS?|
|Answer these questions if your reply to question 15 was ‘true’|
|16||Did you (do you plan to) marry your first premarital sexual partner?|
|17||Did PS impact your choice of marrying your partner positively?|
|18||Did PS impact your choice of marrying your partner negatively?|
|19||Do you regret having practiced PS?|
Elias, Vicky L., et al. “Long-Term Changes in Attitudes Toward Premarital Sex in the United States: Reexamining the Role of Cohort Replacement.” Journal of Sex Research, vol. 52, no. 2, 2015, pp. 129-139.
Fernández-Villaverde, Jesús, et al. “From Shame to Game in One Hundred Years: an Economic Model of the Rise in Premarital Sex and Its De-Stigmatization.” Journal of the European Economic Association, vol. 12, no. 1, 2014, pp. 25-61.
Ghebremichael, Musie S., and Finkelman, Matthew D. “The Effect of Premarital Sex on Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and High Risk Behaviors in Women.” Journal of AIDS and HIV Research, vol. 5, no. 2, 2013, pp. 59-64.
Kraft, Amy. “Changing Attitudes about Premarital Sex, Homosexuality.” CBS News, 2015. Web.
Teferra, Tomas Benti, et al. “Prevalence of Premarital Sexual Practice and Associated Factors among Undergraduate Health Science Students of Madawalabu University, Bale Goba, South East Ethiopia: Institution Based Cross Sectional Study.” PanAfrican Medical Journal, vol. 20, no. 209, 2015, pp. 1-11.
Wright, Paul J. “Americans’ Attitudes Toward Premarital Sex and Pornography Consumption: A National Panel Analysis.” Archives of Sexual Behavior, vol. 44, no. 1, 2015, pp. 89-97.